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These books are as funny as they are sharp, and I hope we’ll start referencing them as often as we do “The Lottery.”If you’re not yet a Jackson fan, check out our Reading Pathway recommendations for where to start.If you are at all familiar with the life of author Shirley Jackson, then you already know that her affinity for the supernatural went far beyond her work.(Jackson's complicated feelings about her role as a housewife are discussed in depth in Franklin's biography.) In a collection of Jackson's previously unpublished short stories and lectures on writing, she discusses her quirky writing techniques, many of which take place away from the typewriter.
As usual, Jackson draws you in expecting one thing, spins you around and presents you another.
There are dishes and dirty laundry, but also magic and intrigue.
So now seems like a good time to remind readers that, between writing beloved and bone-chilling books, Shirley Jackson also wrote about the life of a wife and mother in the mid-20th century.
Jackson published her essays on family life in women’s magazines such as For those of you unfamiliar with Jackson’s work, her usual subjects include haunted houses, apocalyptic scenarios, unexplained happenings, etc.
Many early critics were disappointed that the author of the disturbing novel had penned “inconsequential” stories of motherhood and managing house.
“It is something of a shock,” one wrote, “to read such ephemeral fluff.” (3)But really, the books are classic Shirley Jackson.She lets this little anecdote speak for itself, moving briskly on to a hazy and drawn out childbirth. They are so evocative of the difficulty women had (and still have) of being taken seriously.In her lifetime, Jackson published six novels, about a hundred short stories, two memoirs, and three children’s books. Marvel at how she managed to write prolifically, raise four children, and be a “housewife.”In the end, what I love about is how they manage to be both compulsively readable slice-of-life stories and social commentary.When she checks in at the hospital for her third pregnancy, she has a difficult time with the receptionist filling out her intake form:“Occupation?”“Writer,” I said.“Housewife,” she said.“Writer,” I said.“I’ll just put down housewife,” she said.Best known for her macabre fable "The Lottery," one of the most famous short stories in American history, and her classic of the haunted house genre, , Jackson was a lifelong aficionado of all things magical, and it profoundly impacted her writing."Jackson had always had an imaginative, even magical mind, filled with witchcraft lore, myths, and fantasies of her own devising," her biographer, Ruth Franklin, explains in Jackson, who had four children with her husband, literary critic Stanley Edgar Hyman, was a daydreamer by personality, to be sure, but her affinity for the fantastical also helped her maintain her prolific writing while raising a family with little help from her husband., one of my favorite novels, is about a house that may not even be haunted.The ghost never appears, is never made explicit; all occurrences could be blamed on the main character, an anxious woman named Eleanor.Each story displays the signature humor she lends to all her writing.Sometimes it is a dark, creeping humor—funny, but unsettling.